Common name: ‘Henry’s Garnet’ sweetspire
Botanical name: Itea virginiana ‘Henry’s Garnet’
Virtues: Adaptable to wide range of conditions. A naturally small shrub. Fragrant, pretty flowers that attract butterflies and bees. Vivid fall foliage.
Flowers: Long white flower spikes appear in early summer. Fragrant.
Foliage: Dark green until fall, when they turn scarlet. Leaves can hang on into December. Good alternative to burning bush (Euonymous alata).
Habit: Mounding deciduous shrub 4 to 6 feet tall and wide.
Season: Early summer for bloom; fall for foliage.
Origin: Introduced to the nursery trade in 1982 by the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College. The original was part of a group of seedlings collected in Georgia and passed to the arboretum by Josephine Henry of Gladwyne, Pa. Dr. Michael Dirr suggested the arboretum name this particular seedling. Henry’s refers to Josephine Henry and Garnet refers to Swarthmore’s school color (not the shrub’s fall foliage). The straight species is native to swamps and wet woods east of the Mississippi, from Illinois and the Mid-Atlantic south.
Cultivation: Prefers moist soil and partial shade or full sun. Full sun brings out the best fall color. Will adapt to drier sites. Spreads by suckers; remove them as they appear if you don’t want a colony. USDA Zones 5–9.
Small garden? See 400 Trees and Shrubs for Small Spaces
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